Mission Santa Clara

MissionSanta Clara

Itis dubious that many people today are aware of the existence of, an institution that has played an invaluablerole in the development of California’s Santa Clara country, froman economic as well as cultural point of view. California State inthe US is well-known today for representing a variety of cultures(Margaret 5). An important outcome of this is that tourists fromdifferent parts of the world are fond of traveling to the state everyyear, and this certainly generates significant revenue for the stategovernment. One of the sites that make California a popular touristdestination is , a Spanish-founded mission thatwas established in 1777 (Lichtenstein 76). Although the mission wasoriginally designed to serve the needs of Spanish missionaries, itgradually became a multi-purpose institution, serving as a universitychapel and a parish church (Santa Clara University). Despite thesecontributions, is, regrettably, yet to receive amuch-deserved special designation, in addition to being refurbishedinto a state-of-the-art facility in California State. For thisreason, it is strongly proposed the California state governmentshould liaise with the federal government to embark on a process ofrevamping , which will help boost California’scultural attractiveness, thereby boosting economic development in thestate. In order to substantiate the above argument, this essay offersa historical background of , highlighting itspurpose and benefits to the society. More importantly, the essayexposes the current situation of the Mission, thus illustrating theneed for government intervention so that the Mission is elevated tothe status it deserves.

MissionSanta Clara dates back to the year 1777, when Franciscan Fathersbuilt a mission in honor of Saint Claire of Assisi, a female who hadbeen of great value to the Franciscan Fathers. The man behind themission’s establishment was Father Junipero Serra, a Franciscanmissionary who was in charge of all missions (Toucan ValleyPublications, Inc.). It might be worth noting that despite MissionSanta Clara’s undeniable significance in the history of California,it was not the first mission in the state. On the contrary, the truthis that seven other missions had already been established in thestate. Nonetheless, Santa Clara was one among the pioneerSpanish-founded missions within the northern part of California(Margaret 5).

Atthe time of its establishment, the mission was intended to fulfill anumber of purposes. For example, it is reported that like the othermissions, was established in the hope that itwould attract local residents to work and reside in the mission.Secondly, the Spanish built the mission with the hope that they wouldbe in a better position to win local residents, many of them beingIndians, over to Christianity (Margaret 5). Apart from this, a reportcompiled by the Santa Clara University discloses that the founders of had the intention that it would provide the sameservices offered by its sister mission, San Francisco’s MissionDolores. More precisely, just the same way that Mission Dolores actedas a conduit for merchandise intended to be used by missionaries inSan Francisco, was built with the purpose offacilitating safe flow of goods as well as services that were to beused by missionaries in San Jose.

Inaddition to fulfilling the purposes and objectives outlined above, has proven to be a very significant in SantaClara County and the state of California. Among the key achievementsof the Mission is the report that it inspired the establishment ofSanta Clara University, which is reputed as California’s oldestuniversity. Nonetheless, the circumstances around which Santa ClaraUniversity came into being are, to say the least, shameful,particularly when it is considered that the Franciscan Fathers foundthemselves lacking enough money for maintenance of the mission. Inaddition, the mission was being operated by one priest, and thiscaused operational difficulties. Consequently, the presiding bishopwas forced to hand over ownership of the complex to Jesuitmissionaries, thus marking the birth of the University (Santa ClaraUniversity). Owing to this account, it is felt that the only way thatthe government can honor and reward the efforts of the FranciscanFathers would be to renovate, upgrade, and preserve Mission SantaClara.

Secondly,if had not been founded and kept in operation tothis date, it is possible that California State, and Santa ClaraCounty, in particular, would be among the most backward regions inthe US. Lichtenstein (76) observes that Santa Clara’s rich historybegan when Spanish explorers arrived in Santa Clara Valley in 1769.Reinforcing the claim that played an invaluablepart in the civilization of California, Margaret (5) adds that priorto the coming of the Spanish, Californians lead difficult lives. Theauthor asserts that the primary means of survival was huntingtogether with gathering. When they encountered explorers from Spain,the residents experienced a sudden change of lifestyle. According toSanta Clara University, things changed drastically with the 1769encounter between Ohlone Indians and Spanish explorers. Specifically,the Ohlone abandoned their hunter-gatherer lifestyles and shifted toagriculture. Likewise, they gradually abandoned their tribal identityand embraced Christianity. In summary, it is evident that MissionSanta Clara`s role in the civilization and development of Californiacannot be over-emphasized. As a sign of recognition of thisimmeasurable contribution, it is the time the government did its partto raise the Mission to the iconic status that it should have beenawarded centuries ago.

Itis surprising, and a great shame, learning that has not received any special designation so far, even though it wasfounded close to 24 decades ago. In a report that highlights keyfacts about , the California Missions ResourceCenter labels the Mission as falling within the category of none,under the special designation subtitle. Basing on the contributionsthat have so far been discussed, such a designation is outrightinappropriate, and somewhat an insult to the efforts of the Mission’sfounders. To avoid further harm, and in an attempt to correct thisgross mistake, it is only prudent that the government takes urgentmeasures to assign the highest possible designation to theinstitution.

Undeterredby this conspicuous lack of recognition, the people behind MissionSanta Clara have, over the years, pressed on. This resilience anddetermination has seen the Mission rise to become a chapel for theChristian community at the Santa Clara University. At the same time,the mission serves as a parish church. These are very noble purposesin the sense that the Mission is helping to bring an upright,God-fearing generation of people in a world that is full of evil. Forthis reason alone, it would perfectly be in order for the governmentto support the Mission in fulfilling this noble task. As reiteratedseverally in this report, one way through which the government couldoffer this assistance is to provide the resources needed to turn into a modern, world-class facility.

Anarticle released by Toucan Valley Publications further illustratesthe need for government intervention in restoring the dignity andhonor of . In a section that explores the currentsituation of the Mission, the article discloses that Mission SantaClara is still plagued by the same natural catastrophes that struckthe first mission church. The article cites a massive fire thatripped the mission in 1926, causing a huge loss. For example, theheat generated by the fire destroyed one among the four bells in theMission. On top of this, the Mission has undergone a series ofrenovations, and this has altered some among the inventive designsthat were used to put up the building. Although these occurrencestook place a long time ago, no mention is made of any measures thathave been put in place in order to safeguard the Mission against suchunforeseen incidents in the future. Accordingly, it would be timelyfor the government to reward the efforts of the Mission’s foundersby securing the building and its surroundings, hence helping topreserve the cultural heritage of California.

Speakingof cultural heritage, it is worthwhile to note that the founders of are the same people who established the earliestCatholic cemetery within Santa Clara County (Lichtenstein 76). Apartfrom this, it is reported that there are several cemeteries in SantaClara, the reason being that has changed itsposition four times. This implies that within every site where theMission has been located, a cemetery was established (Lichtenstein76). Such a report bears a lot of significance to religiouscommunities, particularly Catholics. On the one hand, an implicationof the above report is that a substantial number of prominent peoplewho shaped California’s history are buried in Santa Clara. On theother hand, Jesuit traditions require that church ministers should be“buried with their congregations” (Lichtenstein 76). A possibleinterpretation of this statement is that Catholic faithful fromdifferent parts of the world occasionally travel to Santa ClaraCounty to pay tribute to Catholic fathers as well as sisters who wereburied here. Consequently, it is necessary that the government takesessential measures to preserve these sites.

Besidesfulfilling religious communities’ needs, the Santa Clara MissionCemetery contributes towards the rich cultural legacy of CaliforniaState and Santa Clara County. According to Lichtenstein (76),&quotWalking through the cemetery is like walking through a portionof the valley`s past”. The author explains that the Santa ClaraMission Cemetery is decorated with amazing works of art, includingmarble angels and lofty crosses that come in different shapes as wellas sizes. Subsequently, visitors learn a lot about the history of thearea, as well as its people. In other words, Santa Clara MissionCemetery communicates a lot of information about the culture ofCalifornia. Because of this, it would be a grave mistake for thegovernment to overlook this role by ignoring calls to help refurbishand restore the glory of .

Inconclusion, may have been founded hundreds ofyears ago, but it remains significance up to date. Originally, theinstitution was intended to help ensure that missionaries obtainedthe supplies they needed to execute their work effectively. At thesame time, the Mission was established in order to help in convertinglocal residents to Christianity. Over time, however, the institutionhas served multiple purposes, all of them producing significantbenefits to local communities and the state as a whole. Precisely, ithas been learned that inspired the establishmentof Santa Clara University, the oldest institution of higher learningin California. Apart from this, the Mission-inspired theestablishment of Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, one of the keycultural heritage sites in California. Because of this, a huge numberof tourists flock into the county of Santa Clara every year just tohave a taste of the amazing art found within the cemeteries. Despitethese, it is sad to learn that appears to havebeen forgotten, especially considering that its original designshave, in the past, been destroyed by natural catastrophes. Owing tothese considerations, it will be greatly beneficial to localresidents, the state of California, and the whole of the UnitedStates if the government invests necessary resources towards therestoration of the institution`s dignity.


CaliforniaMissions Resource Center. SantaClara de Asis.2016. Web.

Lichtenstein,Bea. Cemeteriesof Santa Clara., 2005. Print.

Margaret,Amy. MissionSanta Clara De Asís.New York: PowerKids Press, 2003. Print.

SantaClara University. Thehistory of .Web. 2016.

ToucanValley Publications, Inc. MissionSanta Clara de Asis.Web. N.d.